Anxiety, stress and tension are hard to avoid with the busy lifestyles we have today, when more and more people are prone to nervousness. And the truth is anxiety is uncomfortable even if you don’t suffer frequent full-blown panic episodes, because nerves have probably crept up on you at some point in your life — and it’s tough to deal with it.
There are several reasons to be anxious and worried, ranging from health, love, and family issues, to work and money problems. When these things happen, you may experience rapid and shallow breathing, sweaty palms and your mind starts racing, imagining the worst. Plus, anxiety and stress are two factors that can greatly contribute to a number of health issues.
The best thing would be to relax, but this is easier said than done. It doesn’t matter if you’re just freaking out or have full-blown anxiety, the best thing to do is stay away from prescription drugs.
There are plenty of remedies to reduce anxiety, from calming teas to mind-body techniques. Some of them work immediately, while other may take some time to reduce anxiety. Here are some of the best ways to relieve anxiety.
There’s no wonder here, but exercising is one of the best ways to relieve anxiety. Exercise serves as a natural mood booster, increasing blood circulation and improving how the body and brain handle stress.
Aerobic workouts such as jogging, cycling and swimming are the best ways to reduce anxiety and depression, according to the National Institute of Health. When you exercise regularly, you not only get all the health benefits, but you also have more self-esteem. Anxiety causes so much harm because you start worrying about health and illness, but these thoughts scatter when you’re fit.
Researchers at the University of Georgia observed nearly 3,000 people suffering from various medical conditions and discovered that subjects who exercised regularly showed a 20-percent decrease in anxiety symptoms such as nervousness and excessive worrying than those who didn’t work out.
Learn To Breathe
It may sound like a truism, but simply inhaling and exhaling properly can relieve anxiety. Short and shallow breaths are a sign of anxiety and stress in the brain and body. However, abdominal breathing, the one where you breathe slowly, deeply and evenly for 20 to 30 minutes is a great way to stimulate your nervous system, relax your body and oxygenize your brain. This simple breathing exercise can help you calm down in just two minutes, thus preventing panic attacks. With this breathing technique, you’re sending signals to the brain to relax, by consciously breathing, lengthening and strengthening your breath. It’s a sign that you’re in control.
Research shows that warming up is a naturally comforting feeling. When was the last time you left the hot tub or sauna feeling anxious? Right, never. This happens because warmth actually acts on brain pathways that contain serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that directly works to influence mood.
One Japanese study revealed that people experienced a considerable reduction in anxiety after taking a sauna. In a hot bath, you can let allow your muscles to relax as you sit in peace as the water calms you down. What’s more, you can light some candles and create an even more peaceful setting. Or even play some soothing music. Special soaps, scented bath foam or shampoos can further pamper your special timeout.
Go for a Hike
This can be the motivation you need to leave the office for a walk when lunchtime comes: being in nature can reduce anxiety. Researchers from Stanford University surveyed around 60 people regarding their mood before and after taking a 50-minute walk either in an urban or natural environment in California. The study concluded that those who took a stroll in nature experienced less anxiety than those who took a city walk.
A similar study revealed that staying in a green space reduces brain activity in the area that’s linked to a higher risk of depression or other mental illnesses. Researchers think spending time in nature reduces overthinking, which usually happens when you have a bad mood.
Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. But omega-3s also reduce anxiety and fight depression. To get the most benefits, consume 3 to 6 ounces of fatty fish such as salmon or canned sardines three times per week. A six-ounce piece of salmon contains about 3.75 grams of omega-3s. But make sure your grill it.
In a study, researchers from Ohio State University gave one group of medical students 2.5 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids a day. The other group received a placebo. During this study, the subjects had their blood tested during period with lower stress levels and on the days before an important test. After a period of 12 weeks, students who took omega-3s experience a 20 percent reduction in anxiety than the subjects on placebos.
Listen to Music
But not just any music: soothing music. Listening to calming music before doing stressful chores can calm your autonomic nervous system. This is important because it controls your system’s fight-or-flight faster than chilling in silence. Whether it’s rock or Beethoven, make sure you go for something that will make you feel good and relaxed. Listen to your favorite tunes, whatever they might be. If you’re a bit nostalgic, play something that will carry you to another place, in another time.
If you’re feeling jittery, a cup of chamomile tea might be exactly what you need. This is because a few compounds in chamomile interact with the same receptors in the brain as Valium. Chamomile can also be taken as a supplement, but make sure it contains dried flowers and 1.2% apigenin.
One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia observed the effects of chamomile tea on patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). After a period of eight weeks, the study concluded chamomile triggered a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms.
Studies demonstrate not sleeping enough leads to higher levels of anxiety and depression. However, it’s not clear if anxiety is the one that keeps you awake or coping with insomnia increases the odds of suffering with anxiety. Anyhow, this cycle can put you on the edge.
A UC Berkley study scanned the brains of 18 adults as they were viewing dozens of images after a sleepless night, and again after a peaceful snooze. A large portion of the images was made of usual, everyday things. In order to trigger anticipatory anxiety, researchers cautioned participants before displaying disturbing images such as a death scene. When the subjects were sleep deprived, they were found to anxiously wait for the haunting images as they increased activity in brain regions that deal with excessive worrying. The study was small, but revealed that people who are naturally anxious are more susceptible to the harmful effects of sleep deprivation. It’s recommended you sleep between seven and nine hours every night, especially when feeling anxious.
Take A Multivitamin
According to a meta-analysis published in Psychosomatic Medicine, multivitamins can greatly improve your mood. They analyzed eight studies containing more than 1,300 individuals who took multivitamin for around one month. After that period was over, researchers observed that those taking a multivitamin experienced less tiredness and a 68 percent reduction in anxiety and 65 percent decrease in stress.
Supplements that are high in vitamin B are strongly linked to improved mood, which can be explained by the fact that stress reduces your body’s supply of that vitamin. Vitamins and minerals are important for brain health and improved mood, so if you feel like your system isn’t getting the nutrients you need, taking a vitamin can help you in that department.
Originally a Buddhist practice, mindfulness meditation has now become a mainstream therapy that is especially effective to treat anxiety. Psychologists commonly use this practice to treat anxiety patients, mainly because mindful meditation enables each person to experience the true substance of each moment as it happens, rather than what is feared or expected. How do you do it? It’s extremely easy: start paying more attention to the moment that’s happening now, be more curious, and try not to be judgmental.
What’s more, meditation increases the amount of grey matter in the brain, rewiring the body to better cope with stress. Recent studies confirm the positive effects of meditation on anxiety, stress and overall mood. Meditation enables our brain to figure out how the mind creates anxiety-provoking thoughts. Understanding these processes can greatly help in getting rid of those thoughts.
Drink More Water
Feeling shaky and anxious? A study from the University of Connecticut revealed that people who suffered with mild dehydration after a 40-minute treadmill walk reported higher anxiety levels. When you have low energy levels, you’re more likely to feel anxious and restless, researchers believe. Alcohol, caffeine, sugary foods all increase dehydration and interfere with the proper functioning of the brain and body.
Not drinking enough water has an impact on anxiety, and up to 75% of us are living in a constant state of dehydration. Different people need different amounts of water, and when the body is not getting enough of it, it start to function poorly, as hormones can’t find their place due to bad blood flow, which leads to more tense muscles. Try Drinking up to eight ounces of water to calm down your nerves.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 60 compounds (cannabinoids) that can be found in cannabis, along with THC. When people hear about this option to reduce anxiety, they usually assume that since CBD is a compound found in cannabis, it will get you high and therefore it’s not worth the risk. However, unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and it doesn’t show up on drug tests. What’s more, CBD is perfectly legal, doesn’t require a prescription and has no side effects.
CBD has many health benefits, working to reduce anxiety and depression, soothe pain and inflammation, protect against neurodegenerative disorders and reduce nausea and vomiting. Cannabidiol has been shown to have an anxiolytic like effect, reducing anxiety in those with social anxiety disorder. What’s more, it may be effective to treat OCD and PTSD.
One study compared the effects of a public-speaking simulation test in healthy patients and those suffering with generalized social anxiety disorder. In the end, the group who took CBD experienced significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and alert in anticipatory speech.